This is the second in a series of posts over the month of October that celebrate American Archives Month. Through these, we showcase the work of LMU’s very own Department of Archives and Special Collections in its efforts to preserve the record of the past for the generations of the future. To view the first post, click here.
In October 1980, the UNESCO General Conference adopted the Recommendation for the Safeguarding and Preservation of Moving Images , “…marking a historic moment when film, television and sound recordings become officially recognized and defined as part of international cultural heritage in the same way textual information had been regarded for centuries.” In 2005, the General Conference of UNESCO approved the commemoration of October 27 as World Day for Audiovisual Heritage as a further call for the protection of such important, yet at risk documents.
No medium lasts forever, but film, video, and audio works are especially at risk and rapidly deteriorate without proper care. In addition, technological obsolescence and dependency on playback equipment often keep these materials hidden in vaults. In the decades since UNESCO's declaration, libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions (as well as studios and broadcasting companies) have followed suit, advocating for moving image and sound recordings and making advancements in preservation, restoration, and access.
Last year, the Department of Archives and Special Collections processed and made available its first large-scale audiovisual collection. With the gift of The Bill Rosendahl-Adelphia Communications Corporation Collection of Public Affairs Television Programs, donated by Los Angeles councilmember Bill Rosendahl, we took the opportunity to address the need for video preservation and access within our department.
The collection contains over 3,450 public affairs programs from televisions shows such as Week in Review, Beyond the Beltway, Local Talk, The God Squad, Mideast Perspective, and Personal Best, which were originally broadcast between 1987 and 2006 on two cable access channels in Southern California. These programs were recorded on various video formats commonly used by broadcasters at the time. During our eight month processing project, individual videotapes were inspected, inventoried, and re-housed in archival storage boxes. In December 2011, processing was completed and the collection guide was published on the Online Archive of California.
Just a few months after we opened the Rosendahl-Adelphia collection, we began to process a recent acquisition of similar media type donated by KCET, Los Angeles-based, independent public television station. The gift includes videotapes and production files from two of KCET’s popular and award-winning public affairs programs, Life and Times and California Connected.
The 2012 theme for World Day of Audiovisual Heritage is “Audiovisual Heritage Memory? The Clock is Ticking." Interested in stopping the clock and safeguarding the audiovisual materials found in your collections at home? Check out these guides from the Association of Moving Image Archivists and the National Film Preservation Board. Or, interested in celebrating audiovisual heritage by watching movies? Check out these events:
- "Out of the Past: Film Restoration Today" runs every Monday this month (and through December) at the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
- The 10th Annual Home Movie Day (administered by the Center for Home Movies) will be celebrated with 91 events in 17 countries on Saturday October 20. Locally, the event will be hosted at Cinefamily.
- The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) Student Chapter at UCLA presents “Something Old, Something New” at the New Beverly Cinema. This month's theme is East and West crime.
- The Academy Film Archive celebrates 100 years of Universal Studios with screenings of 13 classic horror films.